Tuesday, March 04, 2008

The Reason for God

I am realizing that I really don't have time in my life to do thorough book reviews. But I can tell you when I really like a book, and (when time allows) share something that really stands out. 

My brother got me a copy of Tim Keller's The Reason for God for my birthday. I first heard about Keller after reading The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World, to which he contributed my favorite section.

In The Reason for God he systematically evaluates modern - and valid - criticisms of Christianity using literature, philosophy, real-life conversations, and reasoning to explain how faith in a Christian God is a soundly rational belief, held by thoughtful people of intellectual integrity with a deep compassion for those who truly want to know the truth. And he does all of with great easy and clarity. 

I have never been able to swallow a comparison of C.S. Lewis with any author (his writing have been very influential in my life, especially Mere Christianity), but Keller comes the closest - intellectually and philosophically, he isn't quite there in literary terms - I have ever seen.

In the chapter titled "The Church is Responsible for So Much Injustice" he discuss the Biblical critique of religion (among other issues such as character flaws, religion and violence, and fanaticism). 

"Extremism and fanaticism, which lead to injustice and oppression, are a constant danger within any body of religious believers. For Christians, however, the antidote is not to tone down and moderate their faith, but rather grasp a fuller and truer faith in Christ. The Biblical prophets understood this well. In fact, the scholar Merold Westphal documents how Marx's analysis of religion as an instrument of oppression was anticipated by the Hebrew prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos, and even by the message of the New Testament gospels. Marx, according to Westphal, was unoriginal in his critique of religion - the Bible beat him to it! 

Jesus conducts a major critique of religion. His famous Sermon on the Mount does not criticize the irreligious people, but rather religious ones. In his famous discourse the people he criticizes pray, give to the poor, and seek to live according to the Bible, but they do so in order to get acclaim and power for themselves. They believe they will get leverage over others and even over God because of their spiritual performance. This makes them judgmental and condemning, quick to give criticism, and unwilling to take it. They are fanatics." (Pg. 58)

Chew on that for awhile. This is the type of stuff that will mess you up... in a good way!

I'm currently listening to the brand new instrumental album by Nine Inch Nails; Ghost (Follow the link and you can download the first 9 tracks for free). Good stuff!

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